Drivers needed to take cancer patients to treatment

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WESTWOOD, Kan. -- If you're a good driver with a good heart, cancer patients need you. There's a serious shortage of drivers in our area to take cancer patients to treatment.

Gary Thomas can count on Margaret Gambill to give him a lift both physically and mentally.

"I think I give them encouragement because they know I'm a survivor," said Gambill.

The license plate tells you Gambill is a three-time survivor of breast cancer. It's one reason why she volunteered for Road to Recovery, a program of the American Cancer Society. Gambill gives free rides to cancer patients who need them to get to doctors' visits and treatment. Thomas doesn't drive.

"I first started calling on family members, but a lot of them were busy, having jobs and stuff," he said.

Thomas is in treatment for throat cancer that's spread to his brain and lungs. He's fortunate to get a free ride to K.U. Cancer Center. There's a serious shortage of Road to Recovery drivers now. The program has just five regulars for the entire metro. It can only fill half of its requests from patients.

"I know in some cases they are completely having to cancel their appointments and rescheduling," said Tish Sick, the volunteer coordinator.

Many more Margaret Gambills are needed. She's given more than 130 rides this year alone.

"I love doing it. These are the nicest, nicest people and they are so appreciative," she said.

Thomas is one of them.

"Without Margaret, I don't know where I'd be as far as treatment or healthwise," he said.

Thomas says a ride in this case is really so much more.

"I mean this is a lifesaver to cancer patients that don't have a way here."

The American Cancer Society hopes to recruit at least 30 new drivers in 30 days. For more information or to volunteer, call 1-800-ACS-2345 or go to www.cancer.org/drive.